Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Melsop Farm

because sometimes you have to go and look at small animals

Norwich Heritage Day

For one weekend recently it was Norwich Heritage Weekend. All the historic buildings in Norfolk and Norwich open up allow people to have a look around. These include about million churches, little gardens, slightly strange members clubs and an amazing shop.

We only got on to this a bit late so a lot of the places that needed booking were not available to us but there were so many places that you can just drop in and look around.

Most cute - the Guide HQ next to the river
Most odd - Strangers Hall - Men's club with the smell of old leather but with the flat screen TV showing the horse racing
Best Church - The Octagon Chapel on Colegate
Most Needy - The King of Hearts Art Gallery - hopefully they can sort funding
Best tour - having a look behind the stage at the Maddermarket Theatre.
Best Garden - the Bear shop on Elm Hill - a surprising gem
Best Shop - an ex roller skating rink built in early 1900's. No words can describe it.


Oklahoma! is a musical that is set in the Mid West of America in 1906 and was performed at the Theatre Royal. It was a well acted and performed with some songs that you might recognise. It was really enjoyable and I felt that the performances of Curly, Laurey and Aunt Ellar were really good. At first I found it hard to get on with the character of Jud as it sounded like the actor was using a fake voice but it turns out that he just had a really deep voice.
There are a number of really good songs and you might recognise this two

It also helped me work out what the hell a Surrey with a fringe on Top was as it was the name of a pub in Sheffield.

The area of real interest wasn't really played out that much. At this time new laws were passed that allowed settlers to be given free land if they moved to Oklahoma. This would allow them to become a state. The enclosing of the land by farmers stopped the cowboys roaming the cattle freely over the land and led to some conflict. I felt that they could have made more of the fact that Curly crossed the boundary from one side to the other although the scene were he sold horse, gun and saddle hinted at this.

Like all art Oklahoma! is a reflection of the situation when it was written and performed and in many ways that is sometimes more interesting the art itself.

The World Trade centre Mosque that is not a mosque and not on the site of the WTC

You can know measure how racist you are by answering the following question.

How far from the site of the Twin Towers should the mosque be built?

It seems 200 metres and not in line of sight is too close for a large number of people. How they square this with the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution is another question.

It also seems to ignore the fact that Freedom Tower (or whatever it ends up being called) may well have a prayer room for any Muslims who work there.

The scariest places in the world

I have often contended that small villages are the scariest places in the world and that the larger the country the less interaction those villagers will have with other nationalities and thus the scary factors is increased exponentially. The evidence comes from both the real world and the fictional world.

The decision of a Florida pastor of a tiny church to burn a Koran (in the end he pulled out)without fully realising the consequences bordered on the idiotic. Whether it would have actually endangered troops in Afghanistan is debatable but to lump an entire faith into a single group shows a singular lack of vision. After all did Tim McVeigh, the Oklahoma Bomber represent all Christians?

The film The Last Exorcism follows a pastor as he shows the tricks he used to fool people into paying him to perform exorcisms. When he decides he can't keep up the pretense and takes a film crew to his final exorcism all is not as it seems and things quickly get out of hand. For a horror thriller it is a decent film up until the last ten minutes when the film throws it all away with a frankly ludicrous ending. I would have liked them to continue driving into the sunset with the thought that everything was well.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Womens Rugby World Cup

was on recently and I got to see some of it. England lost to New Zealand in the final which was a bit of a shame but they are clearly the best two teams in the world and a close scoreline emphasises the small gap between the two teams.

For those of you who thing it is a bit genteeel then watch this

Favourite Player - Maggie Alphonsi for her all action style. This is the only video I could find and it shows a bit of her talent.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Rabbit Emergency

So Missy (short for Mischief) stopped eating (very unusual), stopped terrorising Snuggles and sat feeling sorry for herself. It turns out this is a very bad sign. As a prey animals rabbits only show they are in pain when it is serious and this was. The other piece of information is that if a rabbit stops eating it can die as it requires a stream of food to keep its digestive system working. As the vet explain "it is a gut on legs" and the other vet described it as "very complicated".

As follows
A rabbit eats food and chews it about 300 cycles side to side and it goes down the oesophagus.
The food goes into the stomach, but the real action isn’t there. The stomach stores the food and the contents are sterilized and moved to the small intestine. Then the undigested fiberous material moves on and is sorted. with the fibre going to the colon forming hard waste. The remaining food is then ready for digestion goes into the cecum which is larger than the stomach.
The hard waste that bypasses the cecum is moved through the colon in a circular motion and forms perfectly round hard balls.

The cecum is a complicated organ that redigests the food. It is filled with enzymes and bacteria that breakdown food. Every 3 to 8 hours the cecum contracts and forces the material back into the colon where it is coated with mucus, then passed through the anus and the rabbit eats these "cecotrophes" directly. The rabbit redigests the cecotrophes to receive even more nutrients from them.

So we had two vet trips, special food to apply by syringe, injection to help move the stomach and a pain killer. Thankfully Missy is back to normal.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

This Thing of Darkness

Captain Robert FitzRoy was a man who you may not have heard about but made a lasting contribution to the world as we know it but yet did not live to see the benefit it has brought.

He was a brilliant seaman who was the first to pass Naval exams with 100%. This ability allowed him to captain HMS Beagle in two voyages in and around Cape Horn where a lesser captain might have lost the ship and the people on board. On the Beagle was Charles Darwin who used the geological and biological evidence he saw to propose the theory of evolution. As a committed and devout Christian he could not bring himself to believe the theory and could not be reconciled to his part in the theories origin.

As an MP he had laws on who could and could not skipper a ship passed saving thousands of lives but was not asked to stand down as his beaten rival was causing too much negative publicity.

As governor of New Zealand he was left in a difficult position as European settlers had been sold more land than existing in the whole of New Zealand. The money was not forth coming to buy the land from the Maori and with less than 100 soldiers he could not take it by force. He also refused to blame the Maori in the Wairau Affair started by colonists. He was replaced after three years when people who had not profited from the expected land sales forced him out.

His years of weather observation including pressure allowed him to make valid forecasts of the weather and by using the telegraph machine and bases in Canada, USA and other areas he made weather forecasts allowing harbour masters to signal to vessels if a storm was imminent. His system was disbanded as it was costing fishing fleet owners money to have them in port when a storm was predicted.

The weather observations were restored after pressure form the sailors who found them invaluable but after he committed suicide. He was found to be in debt having spent £6000 (£400 000) of his own money on government projects.

You can read about his life in the book A Thing of Darkness but a paragraph from close to the end sums up his contribution Concentrated on the Beagle were

No less than five of the Beagle's officers were destined to reach the rank of admiral; two became captains of the Beagle, two, eventual Fellows of the Royal Society. They also included Governor Generals of New Zealand and Queensland, a Member of Parliament, future Heads of the Board of Trade and the Meteorological Office, two artists who achieved considerable renown, Secretaries of the Geological Society and the Royal Geographical Society, an Inspector of Coastguards, Australian property magnate, the founding father of the British colony in the Falkland Islands, 6 professional surveyors, five world class botanists, one of the founders of the science of meteorology and author of Origin of Species

Toy Story 3D

Worth seeign for the Spanish Buzz Lightyear alone although the performance of Lotso is fun to watch and the cameo from the soliders were also fun to watch.

The ending is sad in the end of an era way and is supposed to make men especially weep as the idea of moving on and groewing up are key. Maybe the fact I see it year on year with different school groups made me less affected.


An excellent premise with the idea that the CIA agent that is charge of interviewing KGB Russian defectors in fact a spy. From here I was hoping that a complex and confusing web of truth and lies would be spread before the viewer culminating in an ending that might or might not have revealed a truth or left us guessing combined with the ideas from Bourne that more vulnerability and realism in action films heroes results in better film left me anticipating that this could be quite good.

What we got was a bit of a pastiche of an action movie with an absurd plot, over the top action ideas and unintentional comedic moments. This did not make it bad or unwatchable in the same way that a Bond film is a comedy so was Salt and I enjoyed it a lot better when I accepted this.

If you are ever in doubt of the absorbent powers or even healing powers of a sanitary towel then watch as Angelina straps one over a bullet wound and then never bleeds or shows any ill effects from the injury.